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 Post subject: "Unmoved Mover" vs "First Cause" arguments
PostPosted: Tue Oct 24, 2017 10:18 am 
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Journeyman
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Going to be reading through some books on Thomistic metaphysics.
Starting with Feser's The Last Superstition.

It's pretty clear and easy to understand; more so than Selman's "Aquinas 101".

But I'm at the point where he's explicating the "Unmoved Mover" argument as distinct from the "First Cause" argument. Prior to reading this I actually thought they were one in the same just under different names.

To anyone familiar am I understanding this right: The Unmoved Mover is concerned primarily with Essentially Caused events (hand using a stick to move a stone).... and that essentially causes series (opposed to accidentally caused series) necessitates an Unmoved Mover.

The First Cause argument is concerned with Essence and Existence. How everything in our experience is a composite of Essence and Existence. That nothing, in our experience, has existence by virtue of it's essence. However, God (the First Cause) is that which does not need to have His existence paired to His essence.

Is that roughly correct?

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 Post subject: Re: "Unmoved Mover" vs "First Cause" arguments
PostPosted: Tue Oct 24, 2017 2:46 pm 
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I don't think it's helpful to so distinguish between "first cause" and "unmoved mover" arguments in the way you seem to be doing here. It is certainly helpful--more, it is necessary--to distinguish between cosmological arguments based on essentially ordered causal chains from those based on accidentally ordered causal chains. The most obvious example of the latter is the kalam cosmological argument, which a lot of people see as synonymous with the first cause argument or the cosmological argument.

More to your point, the unmoved mover" is directly related to Aquinas' first way. It starts with the observation that some things are in motion (that is, they are changing). Since any essentially ordered causal chain requires a power source, if you will, we have to conclude that the fact that some things are in motion necessitates something about the first mover, and that conclusion is that it is being moved by nothing else (for if it were being moved, it would not offer any explanatory power for the motion that we see). To be clear, it's not the case that we're just concluding that there is a first cause or prime mover. It's that, more importantly, we're seeing something about the first cause or prime mover: namely, that it is itself unmoved. Based on a proper analysis of what motion is, we conclude what we're actually saying is that the unmoved mover is actus purus or pure actuality, and a lot of things flow from there.

The second has to do with efficient causality. Similar to the argument from motion, in any essentially ordered causal series, there must be a first efficient cause that is itself uncaused. So here, "first cause" would be very appropriate. But once again, it's important to see that we aren't concluding that there is a first cause per se but really we are saying something about the nature of that first cause: it really is first. It is uncaused itself. The third way has to do with necessity and contingency and concludes that in any essentially ordered causal chain there must be a necessary rather than merely contingent cause.

It is certainly true that the first three arguments are true because, in the first cause or unmoved mover, essence and existence are identical (so divine simplicity). But you get to that identity thesis after having gone through the argument, not before. Now, I do know of a way that you can start with DS, but that presumes the existence of God, so it doesn't help you in arguing for His existence (for what it's worth, you do that by noting that God is Creator and exists a se, and since no composite being can truly be Creator or exist a se, then God cannot be composite).

Thoughts?

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 Post subject: Re: "Unmoved Mover" vs "First Cause" arguments
PostPosted: Wed Oct 25, 2017 10:02 am 
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Thanks for the reply and all of that information.

Quote:
it's not the case that we're just concluding that there is a first cause or prime mover. It's that, more importantly, we're seeing something about the first cause or prime mover: namely, that it is itself unmoved


and

Quote:
it's important to see that we aren't concluding that there is a first cause per se but really we are saying something about the nature of that first cause: it really is first. It is uncaused itself.


I like that theme. It helps me keep clear that there's little dispute about there being some first cause or prime mover.... it's what we're saying about the nature of the first cause/prime mover.


Quote:
I don't think it's helpful to so distinguish between "first cause" and "unmoved mover" arguments in the way you seem to be doing here.


I was only taking the distinction from Feser's book 'The Last Superstition'.
Since reading your post I reread what Feser wrote just to make sure I wasn't messing up what he was saying.
With his Unmoved Mover section he's focusing on Essentially Caused sequences and their bringing Act out of Potency and how this logically has to terminate in an Unmoved Mover, or Pure Act.
The First Cause section he's focusing more on Essence and Existence.... and how this terminates in Being Itself.

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 Post subject: Re: "Unmoved Mover" vs "First Cause" arguments
PostPosted: Wed Oct 25, 2017 1:42 pm 
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p.falk wrote:
I like that theme. It helps me keep clear that there's little dispute about there being some first cause or prime mover.... it's what we're saying about the nature of the first cause/prime mover.

I'm glad it helps. I've read some criticisms of Aquinas (that, of course, I think ultimately fail) charging that he hasn't demonstrated, at least in the first way, that there is only one prime mover, that there could be a large number of uninteresting unmoved movers. The important thing about the criticism isn't that it's wrong, though it is. It's that it recognizes what we've said here: the question isn't whether or not there is a prime mover. There must be one for any essentially ordered causal chain whatsoever. Feser gives a great illustration of this to Ben Shapiro in this video. That also helps us remember that there being a first cause isn't the conclusion we reach but rather a premise from which we reason.

Quote:
I was only taking the distinction from Feser's book 'The Last Superstition'.
Since reading your post I reread what Feser wrote just to make sure I wasn't messing up what he was saying.
With his Unmoved Mover section he's focusing on Essentially Caused sequences and their bringing Act out of Potency and how this logically has to terminate in an Unmoved Mover, or Pure Act.
The First Cause section he's focusing more on Essence and Existence.... and how this terminates in Being Itself.

Just to pick on your language a bit . . . I'd have to reread Feser, but I doubt he's equating essentially ordered causal sequences with the argument from motion against, say, the argument for a first cause. The reason is that first cause arguments also are based on essentially ordered causal sequences. The first way certainly is rooted in the act/potency distinction and how that relates to motion, and thus we conclude something about the first mover (namely, that it is pure act/has no potency). The second and third ways are not based on act/potency but rather the order of efficient causality and necessity/contingency, respectively. As such, the second tells us something about the nature of the first cause -- that it is uncaused (and thus, that it is Being Itself) and that it is in no way whatsoever contingent upon anything else, that is, that it is absolutely necessary (and, again, thus easily discoverable as Being Itself).

I'd just hate for you to connect essentially ordered causal chains with the argument from motion and think or imply to others that the arguments from efficient causality and contingency/necessity are not built on essentially ordered causal chains. To that end, you may find this paper written by my first philosophy paper (and the guy who turned me on to Thomism) helpful and interesting. He really helps drive home the difference between essentially and accidentally ordered causal chains and how Aquinas' arguments are related to the former and not the latter.

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 Post subject: Re: "Unmoved Mover" vs "First Cause" arguments
PostPosted: Wed Oct 25, 2017 2:12 pm 
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Thanks for sharing that link to the paper. I'm going to read that.

Regarding the Unmoved Mover and First Cause arguments I shouldn't have made them out to seem like two competing arguments. That's on me. In the book they're just treated separately, not that one is someone contentious with the other.

To your comments on the first cause, where does Essence/Existence come into play? In The Last Superstition Essence/Existence seems to be what drives the argument. In that section Feser states "Nothing can cause itself to exist. Whatever comes into existence, or whatever has existence added to essence in order for it to be real, must be caused by another" (very close to what he wrote... I copied it down after I read that section)... or, now that I read what I just typed... maybe that's where Efficient Causation comes into play. Efficient Causation being that which accounts for Essences and Existences to be paired.

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 Post subject: Re: "Unmoved Mover" vs "First Cause" arguments
PostPosted: Fri Nov 03, 2017 11:59 pm 
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TheJack wrote:
Feser gives a great illustration of this to Ben Shapiro in this video..


What a coincidence!

So I stumble upon Ben Saphiro's question and answer clip. He was being asked about God by an atheist. He gave the unmoved mover argument and mention Feser. It seems that Ben is impressed by Feser's book.

In the recommended session of that video, there's an interview between Ben and Feser that you mentioned.

What a coincidence. This is all only, like, about a week ago.

And I've been involved in two threads on the video of atheist asking Ben comment section. That's where I got atheists denying that math, law, history as science because they do not demand empirical evidence.


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 Post subject: Re: "Unmoved Mover" vs "First Cause" arguments
PostPosted: Sat Nov 04, 2017 4:57 pm 
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beng wrote:
And I've been involved in two threads on the video of atheist asking Ben comment section. That's where I got atheists denying that math, law, history as science because they do not demand empirical evidence.


That is an incredibly short sighted thing for someone to say, does he even know just how radical a position he is adhering to, the idea that only empiral evidence is valid?

There are many forms of knowlege that are not empirical in nature.

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